Saskatchewan RCMP have recovered the remains of two pilots who went missing in their Cessna 180 almost 60 years ago. The sunken aircraft was discovered at the bottom of Peter Pond Lake in northern Saskatchewan by the pilot’s daughter and son-in-law with the help of a sonar specialist and his equipment.
The plane, operated by Saskatchewan Government Airways, took off from Buffalo Narrows with pilot Ray Gran and conservation officer Harold Thompson as his passenger with La Loche, Sask. as its destination.
After the aircraft became overdue, the RCAF spent 10 days searching for it. They eventually concluded that the 180 crashed into Peter Pond Lake with no survivors. The lake is adjacent to Buffalo Narrows.
On Wednesday of last week, RCMP underwater recovery team made four dives to the 180 which was lying upside down 20 metres below on the lake bottom. Among the personal items recovered were boots, a pendant, a camera, a knife and a wallet. The human remains and personal items recovered are with the Saskatchewan Coroners Service and will be turned over to the family afterward their investigation is complete.
During the dives, the water temperature was 2°C and the visibility was minimal. “At the bottom, you can’t see your hand. You have to use a light close to your chest to see what you picked up,” said Constable Peter Rhead, one of the divers. “I wish I had more time to see the whole plane, but it was important to gather what we could from the cockpit.”
“I saw the colours and the markings on the plane; it’s obvious it is the right plane.” Rhead added.